Agenda and minutes

Overview & Scrutiny Committee
Tuesday, 19th November, 2019 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Offices, High Street, Epping

Contact: G. Woodhall Tel: (01992) 564243  Email:  democraticservices@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

30.

Webcasting Introduction

This meeting is to be webcast. Members are reminded of the need to activate their microphones before speaking. The Chairman will read the following announcement:

 

“The Chairman would like to remind everyone present that this meeting will be broadcast live to the internet (or filmed) and will be capable of repeated viewing (or another use by such third parties).

 

If you are seated in the lower public seating area it is likely that the recording cameras will capture your image, and this will result in the possibility that your image will become part of the broadcast.

 

This may infringe your human and data protection rights and if you wish to avoid this you should move to the upper public gallery.”

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman reminded everyone present that the meeting would be broadcast live to the Internet, and that the Council had adopted a protocol for the webcasting of its meetings.

31.

SUBSTITUTE MEMBERS

To report the appointment of any substitute members for the meeting.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee noted that Councillor H Kane had been appointed as a substitute for Councillor G Mohindra, and that Councillor D Stocker had been appointed as a substitute for Councillor D Sunger.

32.

MINUTES

To confirm the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 16 July 2019 (previously circulated).

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

          Resolved:

 

(1)      That the minutes of the meeting held on 16 July 2019 be taken as read and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.

33.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

To declare interests in any item on the agenda.

 

In considering whether to declare a pecuniary or a non-pecuniary interest under the Council’s Code of Conduct, Members are asked to pay particular attention to paragraph 11 of the Code in addition to the more familiar requirements.

 

This requires the declaration of a non-pecuniary interest in any matter before Overview & Scrutiny which relates to a decision of or action by another Committee or Sub-Committee of the Council, a Joint Committee or Joint Sub-Committee in which the Council is involved and of which the Councillor is also a Member.

 

Paragraph 11 of the Code of Conduct does not refer to Cabinet decisions or attendance at an Overview & Scrutiny meeting purely for the purpose of answering questions or providing information on such a matter.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(a)      Pursuant to the Council’s Code of Member Conduct, Councillor J H Whitehouse declared a personal interest in item 9, Voluntary Action Epping Forest – Scrutiny of External Organisation, by virtue of being a trustee of both Epping Forest Re-Use and Roding Valley U3A, who were both members of Voluntary Action Epping Forest. The Councillor had determined that her interest was non-pecuniary and would remain in the meeting for the consideration of this item.

34.

Public Questions & Requests to Address the Overview and Scrutiny Committee

To receive questions submitted by members of the public and any requests to address the Committee, in accordance with Article 6 (Overview and Scrutiny) of the Council’s Constitution.

 

(a)         Public Questions

 

Members of the public may ask questions of the Chairman of Overview and Scrutiny Committee at ordinary meetings of the Committee, in accordance with the procedure set out in the Constitution.

 

(b)        Requests to address the Overview and Scrutiny Committee

 

Any member of the public or a representative of another organisation may address the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on any agenda item (except those dealt with in private session as exempt or confidential business), due to be considered at the meeting.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee noted that no public questions or requests to address the meeting had been received.

35.

Executive Decisions - Call-In

To consider any matter referred to the Committee for decision in relation to a call-in, in accordance with Article 6 (Overview and Scrutiny) of the Council’s Constitution.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee noted that no executive decisions had been called-in for consideration since the previous meeting.

36.

Voluntary Action Epping Forest - Scrutiny of External Organisation pdf icon PDF 135 KB

(Democratic Services Manager) To consider the attached report.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Democratic Services Manager introduced Ms J Foile, Chief Officer, and Dr M Gilbert, Chairman of the Trustee Board, from Voluntary Action Epping Forest (VAEF) to the Committee.

 

Ms J Foile gave a presentation to the Committee on the current work programme of VAEF, and highlighted the Handyman service, Befriending service, Gardening service, Benefits Advice & Information service, Winter Warmth campaign, Ace activities for learning disabilities, Time Bank project and the establishment of the West Essex Community Action Network with Rainbow Services, Harlow and the Council for Voluntary Services Uttlesford. The organisation had been running since 1993 and became a charity and Voluntary Action Epping Forest in 2004. However, the mission had always remined the same - to help other Community Associations and vulnerable residents; last year, VAEF supported over 10,000 individuals in various ways, 700 organisations and provided some 150 activities.

 

Ms J Foile emphasised that funding for the organisation was an ongoing challenge, and welcomed the Council being one of its core funders, along with Essex County Council. Other bodies such as the Big Lottery Fund, Loughton Town Council and Harlow District Council also contributed to the costs incurred by VAEF in providing its services. The organisation felt that it had a very good reputation throughout the District and provided very good value for money for the services that it provided; full audited accounts were available. VAEF was always interested in people sharing its news and stories throughout social media and other outlets, and if anyone had any spare time then they would be welcomed as new volunteers to help others throughout the District.

 

Dr M Gilbert added that she believed Ms J Foile to be an excellent Chief Officer, and that the Board of Trustees contained a wealth of business experience. The organisation was currently in the midst of a strategic review; VAEF did not have vast funds to spend so the aim of the review was to make VAEF leaner and make the best possible use of the available resources.

 

Councillor S Murray thanked Ms J Foile and Dr M Gilbert for their presentation, and expressed his appreciation for the efforts that VAEF made as he felt the statistics reinforced his view that VAEF helped thousands of people across the District in a structured and cost effective way. Councillor N Avey suggested that the Council should continue to support VAEF in the future, and added that he himself was a volunteer gardener with VAEF who gave up 2 or 3 hours of his time on Monday mornings.

 

In response to questions from the Committee, Ms J Foile stated that there was a long waiting list for the Gardening Service, with referrals for the Service coming from the Council’s Housing Officers. A total of 115 people were currently being supported through the Gardening Service, which usually included at least 4 visits. The cost of the Service to the Council was £87 per visit with 2 or 3 Gardeners in attendance. An application had been made to the High  ...  view the full minutes text for item 36.

37.

Group Company Structure pdf icon PDF 159 KB

(Interim Strategic Director) To consider the attached report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The interim Strategic Director presented a report on the progress with the establishment of the proposed Group Company Structure.

 

The interim Strategic Director reminded the Committee that the Cabinet had agreed in July 2019 to establish a group of companies, wholly owned by the Council, to deliver the following services:

 

            (a)        a Services company to deliver the Housing Repairs Service;

 

(b)        a Development company to directly undertake development activity for the Council; and

 

(c)        an Investment company to hold property assets for long-term rental.

 

The interim Strategic Director stated that a Steering Group had also been constituted to oversee the Group Company establishment, and consisted of three members of the Cabinet, the Chief Executive and the interim Strategic Director. Once the companies had been established, the Steering Group would be replaced by a formal Board structure. Up to this point, the Steering Group had concentrated upon the appointment of the specialist advisors to facilitate the Group Company set-up, including a consultant Development Director for the Development company; key decisions on governance, finance or land ownership had yet to be made. The model being used for the Group Company was based on best practice, as many Councils were setting up this type of company.

 

The interim Strategic Director then gave the Committee a short presentation on the initial design work that had been undertaken by Puttock Brown, the consultants appointed by the Council to provide the design and communication material for the new group of companies. This included the choice of ‘Qualis’ as the name for the companies: Qualis Group; Qualis Commercial; Qualis Living; and Qualis Management.

 

Councillor Murray opined that there was no information in the report to allow any proper scrutiny of the decisions made by the Steering Group, and highlighted the appointment of Puttock Brown as an example of this. The interim Strategic Director responded that the Steering Group had followed the Council’s procurement rules for the appointment of all of the consultants, and the tender submissions for these appointments could be circulated to Members if they wished. The Deputy Leader of the Council, Councillor S-A Stavrou, added that the Steering Group had listened to the advice of their consultants and took a collective decision for each appointment. The section of the report outlining the skills and experience of the newly appointed Development Director was also highlighted.

 

Councillor Murray enquired if there would be any independent members of the new Group Company Board when it was set up? The interim Strategic Director replied that the formal Board structure was subject to legal advice, and the Board composition and structure had yet to be decided. The legal advisors were being requested to provide information about how similar such structures were operating elsewhere and what lessons the Council could learn. The Chief Executive added that independent board membership would be very important and it was being considered.

 

Councillor Murray stated that he was not happy with this process, as major decisions were being made by just three Members  ...  view the full minutes text for item 37.

38.

Cabinet Business pdf icon PDF 200 KB

   Recommendation:

 

   That the Committee review the Executive’s current programme of Key    Decisions to enable the identification of appropriate matters for the    Overview and Scrutiny work programme and the overview of specific    decisions proposed to be taken over the period of the plan.

 

Article 6 (Overview and Scrutiny) of the Constitution requires that the Committee review the Executive’s programme of Key Decisions (the Cabinet Forward Plan) at each meeting, to enable the identification of appropriate matters for the Overview and Scrutiny work programme and to provide an opportunity for the overview of specific decisions proposed to be taken over the period of the plan.

 

The Constitution (Article 14 (Decision Making)) defines a Key Decision as an executive decision which:

 

            (a)        involves expenditure or savings of £250,000 or above which are             currently within budget and policy;

 

            (b)        involves expenditure or savings of £100,000 or above which are NOT             currently within budget and policy;

 

            (c)        is likely to be significant in terms of its effect on communities living or             working in an area comprising two or more wards;

 

            (d)        raises new issues of policy;

 

            (e)        increases financial commitments (i.e. revenue and/or capital) in future             years over and above existing budgetary approval;

 

            (f)         comprises and includes the publication of draft or final schemes which             may require, either directly or in relation to objections to, the approval of a             Government Minister; or

 

            (g)        involves the promotion of local legislation.

 

Wherever possible, Portfolio Holders will attend the Committee to present forthcoming key decisions, to answer questions on the Key Decision List and to indicate where appropriate work could be carried out by Overview and Scrutiny on behalf of the Cabinet.

 

The Executive’s current programme of Key Decisions is attached as an Appendix to this report.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Democratic Services Manager presented the Executive’s current Programme of Key Decisions for the Committee to consider.

 

Leader Portfolio

 

Councillor J H Whitehouse felt that the report from the Local Government Association Peer Review should be submitted to the Overview & Scrutiny Committee for consideration. The Chief Executive stated that approval for the Peer Review was granted by the Cabinet last night, and that once the Review was completed then a report would be produced and published on the Council’s website; the report could be discussed in this forum if the Committee so wished.

 

Housing & Property Services

 

Councillor S Murray felt that the development potential of the Council’s Sheltered Housing Assets should also be considered by the Committee in due course. Councillor H Whitbread, Housing & Property Services Portfolio Holder, reminded the Committee that this item was concerned with how to best utilise the sheltered housing assets as part of the Council’s provision of affordable housing, and not simply developing or selling off the current assets. The proposed review would be undertaken in the new calendar year and the outcome would be reported to the Stronger Communities Select Committee.

39.

Local Adult Social Care Services - Scrutiny of External Organisation pdf icon PDF 137 KB

(Democratic Services Manager) To consider the attached report.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Democratic Services Manager introduced a report concerning the external scrutiny of local adult social care services.

 

The Committee was reminded that it had previously expressed a desire to undertake external scrutiny of the current provision, planning, management and performance of local health and adult social care services. Although the scrutiny of such matters was normally reserved for Essex County Council, they had generally been happy for this Committee to address any local concerns. The County Council’s Director of Adult Social Care would arrange for suitable Officers to attend the Committee’s meeting on 28 January 2020.

 

The Committee was requested to consider the scope of the external scrutiny activity of local adult social care services, and suggested the following specific issues:

 

(a)        the criteria applied by Essex County Council for home visits to be made to local residents for the provision of home-based adult social care requirements;

 

(b)        the types of adult social care services currently being provided within the Epping Forest District, who such services were provided for and who provided the services on behalf of the County Council;

 

(c)        how issues of isolation within the local population, particularly amongst older residents, were addressed by the County Council through the provision of local adult social care services;

 

(d)        how Epping Forest District Council could work effectively with Essex County Council to ensure that local residents with social care requirements were able to remain living in their own homes for as long as possible and how the Council’s current review of the provision of its sheltered housing schemes could support this aspiration;

 

(e)        the support available from the County Council for residents (and the families of residents) suffering from conditions such as dementia (particularly in the early stages of the condition) and visual impairment, and opportunities for the roll-out of smart home technology to allow patients to stay in their own homes for as long as possible;

 

(f)         how the development of digital technology would support the County Council to provide innovative opportunities to improve local adult social care services, particularly in view of the planned withdrawal of the existing Careline service; and

 

(g)        how Epping Forest District Council could work effectively with Essex County Council to support the provision of local adult social care services and how the County Council intended to engage with this Council to ensure the best level of service provision to local residents.

 

The Democratic Services Manager added that further key issues for scrutiny would be sought from Members via the Council Bulletin nearer the time, and that if Members of the Committee had any further suggestions then they should inform the Democratic Services team.

 

            Resolved:

 

(1)        That the Committee’s suggested key issues for the scrutiny of the local adult social care services provided by Essex County Council be conveyed to the Director of Adult Social Care.

40.

Local Mental Health Services - Scrutiny of External Organisation pdf icon PDF 137 KB

(Democratic Services Manager) To consider the attached report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Democratic Services Manager introduced a report concerning the external scrutiny of local mental health services.

 

The Committee was reminded that it had previously requested the opportunity to undertake scrutiny of the current provision, planning, management and performance of local mental health services in order to better understand how different agencies could work together to share best practice and support residents. Although the scrutiny of this area was reserved for the County Council, it was generally not averse to this Council undertaking scrutiny of local issues. Representatives of the West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust had confirmed that they would be able to attend the meeting scheduled for 17 March 2020.

 

The Committee had identified the following key issues to be scrutinised in respect of the provision of local mental health services:

 

(a)        how issues of isolation within the local population, particularly amongst older residents, were addressed through the provision of local mental services;

 

(b)        how apparent mental health concerns amongst local students could be referred to service providers by primary and secondary schools in the Epping Forest District and how quickly such referrals could expect to be assessed;

 

(c)        Whether funding for local mental health services was being maintained or increased by the Clinical Commissioning Group, at a time when the mental health sector appeared to be under increasing pressure; and

 

(d)        How Epping Forest District Council could work effectively with the CCG and the NHS Trust to support the provision of local mental health services and how the CCG and NHS Trust intended to engage with this Council to ensure the best level of service provision to local residents.

 

The Democratic Services Manager stated that further key lines of questioning would be sought from Members via the Council Bulletin nearer the time, and if Members had any further suggestions then they should inform the Democratic Services Team.

 

            Resolved:

 

            (1)        That the Committee’s suggested key issues for the scrutiny of the local             mental health services be conveyed to the West Essex Clinical Commissioning             Group and Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust.

41.

Co-Option of Independent Members to Select Committees pdf icon PDF 312 KB

(Democratic Services Manager) To consider the attached report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Democratic Services Manager presented a report on the co-option of independent members to Select Committees.

 

The Democratic Services Manager reported that the role of co-opted members was to constructively challenge the Council and Officers on service or performance issues. However, it was also important that co-opted members were appointed on the basis of their level of knowledge and experience of relevant issues so that they could make an informed contribution to debates. Currently, the Council had co-opted members on the Audit & Governance Committee and the Standards Committee. In addition, the Remuneration Panel was entirely composed of independent members. Formal recruitment and selection procedures were in place for each of these committees.

 

The Democratic Services Manager reminded the Committee that Article 6 of the Constitution permitted the Overview & Scrutiny Committee to recommend to the Council the appointment of non-voting co-opted members, and this process was followed to appoint representatives of the Epping Forest Youth Council to membership of the former Communities Select Committee. In addition, the Chairman of the Tenants & Leaseholders Federation (TLF) was an active co-opted member of the former Communities Select Committee. With the introduction of the new Select Committee arrangements at the start of this municipal year, the Service Director for Housing & Property Services had suggested that the Chairman of the Tenants & Leaseholders Forum (what is now the TLF) should be co-opted onto the Stronger Communities Select Committee, whilst the Epping Forest Youth Council was also keen to secure co-opted membership of the same Select Committee.

 

Consequently, it had been recommended that a report be made to a future meeting of the Committee outlining proposals for appropriate selection procedures and criteria for the appointment of co-opted members to the Council’s Overview & Scrutiny Committees. This would bring the co-option of independent members for the Select Committees in line with the existing arrangements for the three committees described earlier. The Members’ Allowance Scheme for the current municipal year provided for an annual allowance of £500 for co-opted members of an Overview & Scrutiny Committee; this allowance would only apply to a co-opted member formally appointed by the Council.

 

The Committee felt that it would be beneficial to have co-opted members on the Select Committees, as the Council was missing out on a potential wealth of knowledge – although it was acknowledged that the three new Select Committees had a wider area of responsibility than the four Select Committees they replaced. The Democratic Services Manager stated that he was examining examples of co-opted members on Scrutiny Committees at other Councils.

 

The Committee suggested that the allowance for a co-opted member could be linked to the number of meetings that they attended. The Democratic Services Manager stated that there would be budgetary considerations if a number of co-opted members were appointed, and the views of the Remuneration Panel would have to be taken into account.

 

            Resolved:

 

            (1)        That the current arrangements for the co-option of independent             members to the Council’s Overview & Scrutiny Committees be noted; and

 

            (2)        That a report be made  ...  view the full minutes text for item 41.

42.

Local High Streets - Viability & Regeneration pdf icon PDF 211 KB

(Strategic Partnerships Specialist) To consider the attached report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Strategic Partnerships Specialist presented a report on the viability and regeneration of local high streets.

 

The Specialist reminded the Committee that members had been concerned by evidence showing the traditional role of high streets coming under threat from different sources, including online retailing. This District was different from many comparable areas in that it contained a range of market towns without a single large urban settlement, which posed particular challenges and opportunities. Previous research had indicated that the District’s mixture of independent and chain high street stores offered a distinct experience and was appreciated by shoppers, whilst also highlighting the loss of retail spend to London due to the high number of commuters within the District. The Government had recognised this problem and had offered new funding to boast high street sustainability.

 

The Specialist stated that a four-phase approach was being suggested to support a programme of scrutiny activity on the viability and regeneration of local high streets. Firstly, the establishment of a Task & Finish Panel, for which agreement for the draft terms of reference was being sought. Secondly, an information / data gathering exercise to be completed by the Economic Development Team by the end of January 2020 when the Task & Finish Panel was due to start meeting. Thirdly, consultation with key stakeholders over their perspectives and potential future actions. And finally, the formulation of recommendations by the Task & Finish Panel, to be reported back to the Overview & Scrutiny Committee in May 2020. It was highlighted that there was an error in the draft terms of reference, in that the first meeting of the Task & Finish Panel would not be held until after 28 January 2020, and not by 10 January 2020.

 

Councillor J H Whitehouse felt that there was nothing in the draft terms of reference for the Task & Finish Panel which took account of the customer’s point of view, and this should be added. However, it was pointed out that surveys were mentioned in the draft terms of reference, and that the data gathering exercise would include short high street surveys across the District to ascertain the views of shoppers.

 

The Vice-Chairman thanked Officers for progressing this scrutiny activity and looked forward to the establishment of the Task & Finish Panel. The Chairman reminded the Committee that Task & Finish Panels were not subject to the pro rata rules, so any interested member could sit on the Panel. The Specialist also reassured the Committee that the evidence from previous studies would be made available to the Task & Finish Panel.

 

            Resolved:

 

            (1)        That the review of the proposed programme of scrutiny activity relating             to the viability and regeneration of local high streets be noted;

 

(2)        That the establishment of a Task & Finish Panel to review the viability and regeneration of local high streets be agreed; and

 

(3)        That the draft terms of reference for the Task & Finish Panel be agreed.

43.

Corporate Plan Action Plan Year 2 Performance Report pdf icon PDF 138 KB

(Service Director – Community & Partnerships) To consider the attached report.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Service Director for Community & Partnerships presented a report on the performance of the Corporate Plan Action Plan Year 2.

 

The Service Director stated that the Action Plans provided a mechanism for reporting on the Council’s Key Performance Indicators and Key Programmes of Work, which highlighted the Council’s overall performance against the agreed corporate objectives. This Action Plan was for Year 2 of the Corporate Plan, which covered the municipal year 2019/20. Five of the listed Key Programmes were amber rated, and two of the Key Performance Indicators were currently behind schedule against their targets.

 

The Service Director also reminded the Committee that the full report had been considered by the Stronger Council Select Committee, whilst this Committee only considered an exception report.

 

The Chairman highlighted that two of the Waste Management Key Performance Indicators had exceeded their targets – Increase in Recycling, and Reduction in Household Waste.

 

            Resolved:

 

            (1)        That the performance in Quarter 2 of 2019/20 for the Key Performance             Indicators and Key Work Programmes within the Corporate Plan be noted.

44.

Transformation Programme - Accommodation Strategy pdf icon PDF 248 KB

(Interim Strategic Director) To consider the attached report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The interim Strategic Director presented an update report on the Accommodation Strategy. The proposed floor layout plans were also projected for Members to see.

 

The interim Strategic Director reported that the Cabinet at its meeting in October had agreed to not pursue the construction of new Civic Offices in North Weald, as new design plans had illustrated that all required Council staff could be accommodated in the Civic Offices – on a 7:10 desks-to-staff ratio – if the building was refurbished to create a more open plan space. This would also lead to the vacation of the Condor Building, which would then become available for redevelopment.

 

The interim Strategic Director stated that the proposed layout for the ground floor would see the creation of a large conference facility capable of hosting 200 people, as well as spaces which could be leased by partner organisations such as the Library and Citizens Advice. It was also intended to provide public access to the revamped café area. Council staff would occupy the office spaces on floors 1 and 2. A Decant Strategy was being prepared to move all staff to the Condor Building while the refurbishment works were being completed. The Council Chamber and Committee Rooms would also be unavailable, and plans were being drawn up to hold Member meetings at various locations around the District between June and December 2020.

 

The interim Strategic Director stated that it was estimated that the total cost of the refurbishment would be £6.6million. It was expected that this would create a 30-year lifespan for the Civic Offices. The Civic Offices was a listed building, so Listed Building consent would be required for the proposed internal changes; however, a full planning application would be required for the renovation of the café area.

 

Councillor H Kane enquired how happy were the staff with the proposed changes as it was not detailed in the report? The Chief Executive responded that a consultant engaged with the staff a while ago and that was how the 7:10 desks-to-staff ratio was decided upon, although there were examples of more aggressive ratios. The interim Strategic Director added that there was a Champions Group involved with the refurbishment, and Managers were working with their teams on how to apply the 7:10 ratio.

 

Councillor J H Whitehouse expressed some concern at the lack of tables in the proposed layout for Epping Library. The Chief Executive informed the Committee that the Library had yet to respond with specifics for the layout; it was for Essex County Council to inform the Council of their requirements, and for the Council to decide whether the Library could be accommodated or not. However, the Library’s preferred location was the bay area at the front of the building on the ground floor. It was acknowledged that the space for the Library within this building would not be as large as their current building, but an indicative cost for the Library had been calculated and they would lease the space they used.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 44.

45.

Transformation Programme - People Strategy pdf icon PDF 298 KB

(Service Director – Business Services) To consider the attached report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chief Executive presented an update report on the progress with the People Strategy.

 

The Chief Executive reminded the Committee that an analysis of the Council’s staff structures by the Local Government Association had revealed a number of issues, including multiple layers of management, decision-making going up to the top of the organisation, and a Council working in silos. It was recommended that the Council should have a maximum of four layers of management: Strategic Directors (including the Chief Executive); Service Directors; Service Managers; and Team Managers. Recruitment to the three highest levels had been completed and recruitment was underway for the Team Manager roles. There had been a reduction of 53 management posts, resulting in a saving of £1.175million for the Council.

 

The Chief Executive stated that the next stage for the People Strategy would be the appointment to the staff roles. It was expected that the majority of staff would be directly assimilated into the new roles, although some staff would be assimilated on pay protection if their new role involved a drop in pay of one band, but a very small number of staff (less than 10) had been identified as potentially at risk as they were facing a salary drop of more than one band. A 30-day staff consultation exercise was currently being undertaken on the new structures, and all vacancies had been frozen to ensure that as many roles were available for existing staff as possible.

 

The Chief Executive concluded that the number of staff leavers had not increased substantially this year compared to last – 105 in 2019 against 94 in 2018 – although sickness had increased from 1902 days to 3025 days and there had also been an increase in non-work related stress and mental health issues such as anxiety. Establishment figures for the new structure showed a reduction of almost 67 staff; however, previous figures included a number of holiday season staff as full-time employees which made the establishment figures artificially high.

 

In response to queries from the Committee, the Chief Executive provided further explanation for the four layer management model being used, and the management of the risks involved in the two Strategic Director posts being fixed term, interim appointments. The Committee was reassured that the management structure was close to being fully recruited to, with ten posts remaining to be filled out of a total of 90. The Council was also looking to get a substantial proportion of the staffing roles assimilated to before the Christmas break. It was also explained that for the small number of staff where the role available for assimilation had a salary drop of one band, that their salary would be protected at their current level.

 

In response to further questions from the Committee, the Chief Executive stated that she did not have any information to hand about the number of high performing staff leaving the Council, and the Council would not necessarily have any statistics on this anyway, but Senior Officers would know anecdotally  ...  view the full minutes text for item 45.

46.

Overview & Scrutiny Committee - Work Programme pdf icon PDF 134 KB

Progress towards the achievement of the work programme for the Overview and Scrutiny Committee is reviewed at each meeting.

 

(a)             Current Work Programme

 

The current work programme for the Committee is attached as an appendix to this agenda.

 

(b)             Reserve Programme

 

A reserve list of scrutiny topics is developed as required, to ensure that the work flow of overview and scrutiny is continuous. When necessary, the Committee will allocate items from the list appropriately, once resources become available in the work programme, following the completion of any ongoing scrutiny activity.

 

Members can put forward suggestions for inclusion in the work programme or reserve list through the adopted PICK process. Existing review items will be dealt with first, after which time will be allocated to the items contained in the reserve work plan.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Democratic Services Manager presented the Overview & Scrutiny Work Programme for 2019/20, including the Reserve List.

 

The Democratic Services Manager reported that all-Member briefings were being investigated for item 10 – Essex Police / Essex Fire & Rescue Service – on 25 February 2020 and item 13 – Whipps Cross Hospital – Redevelopment Masterplan – on 28 January 2020 before the Overview & Scrutiny Committee meeting that night.

 

The Chairman enquired about the possibility of a further all-Member briefing for item 14 – Transport for London – as they had attended meetings of the Committee previously to discuss the Central Line. Councillor H Whitbread also added that Transport for London had still not responded to the 10,000 signature petition that she had handed in. The Democratic Services Manager responded that the Service Director for Contracts & Technical Services had been in discussions with Transport for London in an effort to organise such a briefing.

 

When asked why the scrutiny of Epping Forest College had been removed from the list, the Chairman reminded the Committee that the College – now rebranded New City College – was not currently prepared to attend one of the Committee’s meetings. However, the Chief Executive added that Officers were visiting the College next week to discuss some issues with the Principal.

 

          Resolved:

 

(1)      That the current Overview & Scrutiny Work Programme for 2019/20 be noted.

47.

Select Committees - Work Programme pdf icon PDF 198 KB

(Chairman of the Select Committees) Article 6 (Overview and Scrutiny) of the Constitution requires that the Chairmen of the Select Committees report to the meeting in regard to progress with the achievement of the current work programme for each Select Committee and on any recommendations for consideration by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

 

The current work programme for each Select Committee is attached as an appendix to this agenda.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Y Knight introduced the Stronger Communities Select Committee Work Programme for 2019/20 and reported that everything was currently on target. It was highlighted that the local District Police Commander would be attending the Select Committee’s meeting on 4 February 2020, and although there were some new items missing from the Work Programme before the Committee, the Select Committee’s focus would be on mental health and wellbeing issues within the District during the remainder of the municipal year.

 

Councillor P Bolton introduced the Stronger Council Select Committee Work Programme for 2019/20. The Select Committee had completed its review of Polling Places, Polling Districts and Polling Stations in the summer, which had been very timely given the recent announcement of a General Election on 12 December 2019. The Select Committee had also agreed to a workshop event to informally discuss the People Strategy, which would be open to all Members and was liable to take place in January 2020.

 

            Resolved:

 

(1)        That the Stronger Communities Select Committee Work Programme for 2019/20 be noted;

 

(2)        That the Stronger Council Select Committee Work Programme for 2019/20 be noted; and

 

(3)        That the Stronger Place Select Committee Work Programme for 2019/20 be noted.

48.

Exclusion of Public and Press

Exclusion

To consider whether, under Section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public and press should be excluded from the meeting for the items of business set out below on grounds that they will involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in the following paragraph(s) of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act (as amended) or are confidential under Section 100(A)(2):

 

Agenda Item No

Subject

Exempt Information Paragraph Number

nil

nil

nil

 

The Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006, which came into effect on 1 March 2006, requires the Council to consider whether maintaining the exemption listed above outweighs the potential public interest in disclosing the information. Any member who considers that this test should be applied to any currently exempted matter on this agenda should contact the proper officer at least 24 hours prior to the meeting.

 

Background Papers 

Article 17 - Access to Information, Procedure Rules of the Constitution define background papers as being documents relating to the subject matter of the report which in the Proper Officer's opinion:

 

(a)        disclose any facts or matters on which the report or an important part of the report is based;  and

 

(b)        have been relied on to a material extent in preparing the report and does not include published works or those which disclose exempt or confidential information and in respect of executive reports, the advice of any political advisor.

 

The Council will make available for public inspection for four years after the date of the meeting one copy of each of the documents on the list of background papers.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee noted that there was no business which necessitated the exclusion of the public and press.